Independent Group Leader's Bulletin: 11 December 2020

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local government association - independent group

Group Leader's Bulletin

11 December 2020


Dear Colleagues,

I hope you and yours are well.

An Historic Breakthrough

It has been an historic week as the first COVID vaccines have been administered, starting with the most vulnerable, older people and carers, and the NHS. We do not know how long any immunity will last, nor if vaccinated people can still be carriers. It will be a long road and the three rules of face, space and hand washing do work.

Thinking locally, working nationally

I recently mentioned our EU Transition Board meeting with Ministers about local government resolution and preparation for January, clarifying the assistance we need from Central Government. With just days to go, we await to hear what tariffs we need to pay. The conservative “oven-ready deal” is still cooking but the Prime Minister has said ‘no deal’ is looking increasingly likely.

Leaving the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland open, as it is, means EU staff will be checking goods from Great Britain arriving at the Northern Irish ports. The EU requires exporting hauliers to have their paperwork ready in advance. Anybody in your area who is exporting to the EU or Ireland, please don’t forget to register. The UK Government has allowed a few months for registering imports.

There is a lot to yet be discovered, but it must be completed by the year end. New advice for citizens, businesses and councils is available on the government’s website.

Some other things to be aware of:

  • There is a campaign to make a number of our ports into freeports. Freeports get tax reliefs, simple customs procedures and “streamlined” planning processes.
  • Substantial new offshore wind turbines are planned for the North Sea, set to quadruple.
  • European residents have until June to register for free residency under the “EU Settlement Scheme”. An app can help, but if it fails, you will need to post your passport.

Independent Leaders and our Group Executive both met this week. We discussed the key issues affecting our councils, all of which make good messages for Independents to use as we approach the elections:

  • The broken promises around funding, leisure money and post-Brexit retention of funds; the confusion around tiers, test and trace; the impact of businesses, particularly the arts and hospitality sectors of a county-wide approach to lockdown.
  • We are calling for a more granular approach to the tiers going forward and our full costs to be covered
  • It also hasn’t helped having unpopular programmes, even with Conservatives, like wholesale planning reform and reorganisation wrapped up as devolution to deal with on top of everything else. We’re hearing that devolution deals, except for in Cumbria, Somerset and North Yorkshire, will be paused until after the election.

At our Group Executive meeting we heard from Local Partnerships, which is backed jointly by the Treasury and the LGA. They provide councils with expertise and support to make real improvements in their services, especially in waste and climate change impact from planning. Their impact report is a good read with some useful food for thought and actions.

Be A councillor

Our Independent LGA group held a successful Be a Cllr event with over 50 people signed up to attend, interested in standing as an Independent. We are also holding a candidate school on the 22nd January, with more details to follow.

I am hosting a local event tomorrow in Lincolnshire; all of those in the county are welcome. We also have an event in Surrey on the 16th January and I’m sure others will soon be scheduled, so if you would like to host one in your area, please let us know.

Very best wishes,

Councillor Marianne Overton MBE signature
Councillor Marianne Overton MBE

Councillor Marianne Overton MBE
Leader of the Independent Group
Vice Chair of the Local Government Association


Remember to visit the LGA Events website for details of forthcoming webinars, including sessions on:

16 December 2020Tackling Diversity and Sharing Good practice

18 December 2020Communicating diverse communities

7 January 2021Rethinking local government finance – for relevant portfolio holders and scrutiny chairs.